[On Tim’s reaction to Billy’s birth]: I think the birth was a bit of a shock to Tim. He was down there, shouting, “I’ll catch it!” like he was a rugby ball or something. I was saying, “Look, Tim, it doesn’t just shoot out.” There’s 48 hours of contractions and agony first.
[On her role as Enid Blyton]: It’s a long time since I have read such a well written script with as complex and fascinating a character as Enid. I hope I do her justice. And I hope I get to drink lashings of Ginger Beer.
[On the classic fairytales]: All the ancient classic fairy tales have always been scary and dark.
[About gaining roles in Tim’s films]: Because I sleep with him he asked me to audition, you know?
[On her poor eyesight]: Famous people come up to me, but I don’t know who they are because my sight is so bad. It’s always at the pool of the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills when I don’t have my lenses in and my glasses are in my room.
[Dealing with death]: I don’t think kids have a problem with death. It’s us older ones who are nearer to it, that start being frightened.
[About the compliments people give]: I enjoy those small chats you have when people come up and talk to you about your work. It only involves a few seconds of effort to be nice to those people, and I am very grateful for the kind words that people have taken the trouble to express to me in person.
[On her childhood]: I was like one of those nauseatingly nice children. I was very, very well behaved and boring.
[On her role in Corpse Bride]: I was sad that Corpse Bride was so short. I would’ve liked to have had her around for way longer. She doesn’t actually have that many scenes.
[Watching herself as the Corpse Bride]: I’m not dead and I don’t have blue hair but some people say there are similarities. It is usually intolerable to watch myself onscreen but this time it’s fine. I think it’s beautiful and a real work of art.
[About the type of actress she is]: I’m the kind of actor who has ventured into escaping from me.
[On getting up to do her voice role as the Corpse Bride]: It didn’t matter what you look like. You don’t have to get up at 5:30 in the morning and there’s a lot to be said for that. Corpse Bride can just play all my parts from now on and I’ll just do the voice.
[On leaving home]: It took me so many years to move out. I’m definitely a bit of a Peter Pan, reluctant to grow up. It all seemed really nice at home-why change it? Part of me would prefer not to have any responsibility whatsoever.
[On her role as the Corpse Bride]: It was a challenge to be able to create a character without being able to use one’s normal set of expressions. All the rubber and makeup attached to your face left you with only a modest range of facial movements.
[On her role in the film Big Fish]: It was weird because I was pregnant, throughout that so it was weird being a pregnant witch. I was in a really bad mood but luckily, because I sleep with the director, he just sort of scheduled me so I only had to do it two nights.
[On her outfits]: It would be nice to really shed the corsets.
[On her relationship with her partner, Tim]: Most of my relationships were people in the business. Having said that, me and Tim don’t really talk that much about work. He comes into my bit of the house every so often to vent but we don’t really have very high, cultured conversations.
[On multi-tasking]: Multitasking? I can’t even do two things at once. I can’t even do one thing at once.
[On her typecasting]: No matter how many modern parts I do, people still refer to me as Mrs. Costume Drama. Fight Club is a studio pic, and I’ve done very few of those. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to change things for me.
[On her role in Planet of the Apes]: Not only was it nearly impossible to hear because of these huge rubber ears we had to wear, but we also had these huge furry hands which were absolutely useless, especially if you had to scratch yourself.
[On her roles in animated films]: That’s the thing with animated films-I often feel that puppets get the better parts compared to us normal actresses.
[On her relationships in the press]: The problems come when your personal life and relationships come under scrutiny in the press and often very uncomplimentary things are printed about you.
[On Tim’s films]: Tim also has enough confidence so that it always looks like a Tim Burton film, but it really is collaborative. You’re allowed to do it your way but of course he’s always going to choose his way.
[On watching her performances]: Usually I’m frustrated when I look at my films and I don’t believe that I’ve made a real transformation beyond my usual sets of gestures and expressions. I still have this nagging feeling that it’s me, that I didn’t create a unique character.
[On playing the Corpse Bride]: What I loved about playing the corpse is that obviously somebody else got to do the physical part. It appeals to the part of me that likes playing character parts and getting the chance to get away from my own physicality.
[On her relationships with people]: With the number of people I ignore, I’m lucky I work at all in this town.
[On “pitch buttons”]: You can actually have a pitch button, you know, to get people on pitch.
[On her role in Planet of the Apes]: You learn to rely on a few basic movements and use your voice to the greatest extent possible to convey your emotions. So there was a technical challenge there and a responsibility to create a character from behind the mask.
[On her image]: I hate this image of me as a prim Edwardian. I want to shock everyone.
[On the animators of Corpse Bride]: The animators are absolutely extraordinary. It’s mind-boggling.
[On breastfeeding]: People say, “You’re still breast-feeding, that’s so generous.” Generous, no! It gives me boobs and it takes my thighs away! It’s sort of like natural liposuction. I’d carry on breast-feeding for the rest of my life if I could.
[On choosing her roles]: You become very angry and depressed that you keep getting offered only these exceedingly demure and repressed roles. They’re so not me. That’s why films like Fight Club were so important to me because I think I confounded certain stereotypes and limited perceptions of what I could do as an actress.
[On the “real” Corpse Bride]: There was a real Corpse Bride, which we still have, which is the original one. She’s in really bad shape actually.
[On presenting an award at the Oscars]: That year I was asked to present something at the Oscars with Matthew Broderick. I didn’t know what to wear, so I just got a dress from my cupboard, a tulle thing. I shoved a skirt of my mother’s underneath it and tied my own bow on the front. It had flair, I suppose, but looked a nightmare.
[On the misconceptions of her]: People have lots of misconceptions about me. My mum, who is half French and half Spanish, gets outraged when I’m called quintessentially English. I owe my looks to my mum-which was 90 percent of getting my first job. And, some people would argue, 90 percent of my entire career.
[On her apparent lack of versatility]: Journalists are always calling my features Edwardian or Victorian, whatever that means. I am small, and people were smaller in those times. I’m pale and sickly-looking. I look fragile-like a doll. But sometimes I just wish I had less of a particular look, one that was more versatile.
[On her admiration for Danny Elfman]: I’ve always wanted to be in a musical and no one would let me up till now. And so I had these two verses and I’ve always been an admirer of Danny Elfman and his music. You forget he was in Oingo Boingo.
[On her sado-masochistic streak]: I think I’ve still got a bit of a sado-masochistic streak in me, because if I’m not going to be restricted by corsets and covered in lace, then I still wind up wearing an ape-mask over my face. I do wonder how I get myself in these situations!
[On changing her looks]: I love changing what I look like because I always feel super strange whenever I do watch something that I’m in.
[On other people’s perceptions]: I have to struggle to change people’s perceptions of me. I grew very frustrated with the perception that I’m this shy, retiring, inhibited aristocratic creature when I’m absolutely not like that at all. I think I’m much more outgoing and exuberant than my image.
[On her habits]: I drink booze, I smoke, and I’m hooked on caffeine. I actually have been known to swear at times and belch and even raise my voice when provoked. And I’m not physically repressed!
[On “Ape School”]: I discovered that my normally hyper personality and movements are completely unsuitable for apes. I was in danger of flunking ape school at first until I began to get in touch with my inner ape!
[On working with Tim]: I definitely like working with the same person twice-and three times and four times-particularly if they’re Tim, because he’s pretty good. And also, it takes such a long time just to get to know somebody and trust someone and work out how they communicate and what they want.
[On casting agents’ perceptions of her]: I also get fed up with the fact that casting agents and directors have this impression of me as being frail and petite. I find it very patronizing. I’m quite beefy and strong. I was a gymnast in school and I have lots of muscles.
[All about her]: Everyone seems to think I’m very ladylike. That I’m very cultured and intelligent. I drink alot of Diet Coke and belch. I’ve been known to use the F-word. I’ve told a few dirty jokes. I arm-wrestle.
[On her roles]: I could play 5,000 drug addicts and I’d still be known as Mrs. Corset Queen.
[A work she says in her sleep]: Bovine!
[On her personal assistant, Donna]: Donna Coulling has been my personal assistant for ten years and secretly I wish that she’ll stay forever because I’m not sure I could function without her. Everyone should have a Donna in their lives. She is my fairy godmother: every wish gets granted. From filing, correspondence, bills, and dealing with the monotonous and never-ending maintenance of house and household, from fixing everything that breaks down to making up for all my incompetence (particularly in the breaking down department) Ocado, pet sitting, there is little that Donna cannot do. “Superdon” is her nickname. She is supersonically efficient, – I’ve never had to ask her to do anything twice, in fact I barely have to ask once before its done, she has thoughtful initiative, is consistently cheery, has a lovely manner with people, utterly professional in a job where lines could get blurred, fun, discreet, and basically perfect. I would trust her with my life. In fact I do.